Rediscovering Root Vegetables

By Carolyn Malcoun, November/December 2008

When the chill of winter hits, humble root vegetables sustain and inspire us.

These root vegetables may look intimidating if you haven’t grown up with them, but they can be found pretty easily in large supermarkets and farmers’ markets. I like to stop at a local farmstand to pick up freshly dug roots, like hand-staining beets and knobby celeriac. If you’re ready to discover root vegetables, try braising or roasting them. “Slower cooking methods release their sweet, nutty flavors,” Chesman says. Roasted roots shine in untold variations. Season them with your favorite herbs and spices or a touch of apple cider and brown sugar and a sprinkling of buttery-cinnamon walnuts. Or braise them in a warming winter stew with flavorful sausage, topped with pillowy herb-flecked dumplings.

While I may never grow most of my own food, I like to think of how my great-grandparents assessed their bountiful harvest at the end of the season and filled the root cellar with parsnips, carrots and turnips. I think they’d be proud that I’m forgoing canned corn and frozen green beans and opting instead for nourishing winter roots.

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